After winning bronze at the World Championships in September 2019, Sky Brown rushed to embrace her mom, Mieko, and dad, Stuart. Brown had just turned eleven at the time, and by placing third, had all but assured herself a place in the Olympics. Familial embraces are non-existent at the Tokyo Olympics due to COVID, but Brown thanked her parents after winning bronze.
Brown’s mom can’t watch her live – Mieko can’t bear the thought of seeing Brown get hurt. Stuart was in Tokyo, however, motivating Sky at every hurdle. “It’s just a contest, what happens here doesn’t define you,” Stuart told Sky following a second-round fall. She picked herself up and put in a stellar performance to end up third.
Brown’s parents help keep her grounded despite her astronomical success
Sky Brown was born on 7th July 2008 in Miyazaki, Japan, to Mieko and Stuart. Mieko is Japanese, and Stuart is a Briton who spent several years in the United States before moving to Japan, where he met Mieko.
Four years after Brown’s birth, Mieko and Stuart welcomed their second child, Ocean Brown, who’s also a skater. Sky became a viral sensation after Stuart posted a video of the then-4-year-old skating.
“It went nuts,” Stuart told The Guardian. “That was the first time I thought, she’s actually really good for her age.” As Sky rose the skating ranks, she informed her parents of her desire to compete in Dancing with the Stars: Juniors.
Brown competed, won, and retreated to her home in Japan. She didn’t experience the US media tour that includes appearances on talk shows. Mieko and Stuart control the media attention Sky gets to maintain the family’s privacy and keep her grounded.
Stuart and Mieko manage the rising star’s social media accounts and limit the number of posts she puts out. “We really limit her social media,” Stuart said. “Her sponsors hate it but it’s something we’ve kept as a family.”
Despite the limits, Sky is a sponsor magnet, having appeared in Nike campaigns alongside Simone Biles. Her Olympics success will definitely attract more sponsors, but they’ll have difficulty getting past Stuart.
After Sky’s historic Olympics win, Stuart tried to shelter her from the media because he wanted to protect Sky’s privacy and preserve her mental health. It is a tricky balancing act as Mieko and Stuart don’t want to limit Sky’s opportunities, but as the Tokyo Tournament has proven, mental health is just as important as physical ability.
Brown’s parents were hesitant to allow her to compete in the Tokyo Olympics
You will not find many parents against the idea of having their children compete in the Olympics. Mieko and Stuart are rare exceptions.
Stuart is a former skateboarder who didn’t want Sky to take up the sport. “I didn’t want her to get on a skateboard,” Stuart told Women in the World. “You have a little girl, and you want to wrap her in cotton wool. But that is the one toy she kept going back to.”
Mieko and Stuart had let Brown compete in most skating competitions she’d qualified for, but they weren’t going to allow her to compete in the Olympics. However, skateboard GB chair Lucy Adam’s laid-back approach convinced them otherwise.
Lucy put no pressure on Sky and insisted that she could pull out whenever she wanted. “It’s a tough one but I don’t think we would be going if it wasn’t in Japan,” Stuart told BBC. “To be honest if it hadn’t been for Lucy… we were adamant we weren’t going to let Sky do it.”
Sky broke her arm after falling off her board at the first Olympics qualifiers in Long Beach, California. “Ah, you’re done,” Stuart told Sky. However, Brown wasn’t done. She convinced her parents to let her compete while wearing a cast and came first.
The next accident, a head first fall from a 4.5-meter ramp, left Sky with a fractured skull and internal lacerations. She wouldn’t have recovered in time for the Tokyo Olympics had they happened at the scheduled time. The accident motivated Sky to compete in the Olympics, but her parents wouldn’t let her. Stuart told The Guardian:
“For myself and my wife and even Ocean, I think it was more traumatic than it was for Sky, because she doesn’t remember it. It was really hard for my wife. It took a long time before she could see Sky skate again. She doesn’t really watch her anymore. She’ll watch videos afterwards but not live.”
Sky convinced her parents to let her compete, and they must be rejoicing as they are now the parents of a medal-winning Olympian. “I just told them I need to skate,” Brown said. In the 2024 Olympics, Sky hopes to compete in skateboarding and surfing. “You only get one life and you’ve got to enjoy it,” the record-breaker says.